Champions of change: Link Up Austin amplifies the voice of young parents for good

Young parents with low income experience a great deal of financial instability, and their poverty rate is nearly triple the national average. Thanks to funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, United Way for Greater Austin and the Austin/Travis County 2-Gen Coalition are on a mission to support the needs of these young parents and create a social services ecosystem that promotes economic mobility for generations to come.

One of the ways we are making this happen is through Link Up Austin. The group is a place for parents, ages 18-24, to connect with one another and grow their leadership skills. These young adults face many unique challenges that older parents do not. The labor market is rapidly changing, and often younger parents have not had the time to get the education, experience, or perspective needed to navigate their careers while focusing on the daily tasks of raising young children. 

The cohort of nine parents is co-designing a pilot to help remove barriers for young parents in the workforce, education, and beyond. For example, providing flexible child care will allow parents to attend classes, in-person or asynchronously, and give them equal access to pursue education. Equal access to education is important because the likelihood of a child succeeding later in life is still affected by the education and income levels of his or her parents. Link Up Austin is designed to listen to the needs of young parents in our community and then work with them to create solutions that will help them and other young parents succeed. 

Learn more about Link Up Austin and hear from parent leader Esmeralda. 

“Before we received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we did not have a chance to reach this particular age group. Young parents are very different than other parents, and having this funding has enabled us to learn more about them,” Paola Silvestre Porras, Director of Family Pathways and facilitator of Link Up Austin said. “The young parents in our leadership group are mostly young parents of color. Thanks to this funding, our group of young parents have learned new skills, gained access to resources, and have made contact with leaders in the community. They are also empowering parents like them by designing a pilot program to connect other young parents to career and education pathways and increase their social capital.”

Hear more about Link Up Austin in action in this video. 

“I am passionate about this work because I want to help others. I want to help others succeed, help those parents that are going to be next. I was once in their shoes and I wouldn’t want them to struggle as I did.”

Esmeralda | Link Up Austin member


“Esmeralda is a natural leader. She wants a better world for herself, her family, and others. Her actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more… and she will reach the stars.”

Paola Silvestre Porras | Director of Family Pathways

To learn more about Link Up Austin, email Paola Silvestre Porras at

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